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Summary Report for:
53-4031.00 - Railroad Conductors and Yardmasters

Coordinate activities of switch-engine crew within railroad yard, industrial plant, or similar location. Conductors coordinate activities of train crew on passenger or freight trains. Yardmasters review train schedules and switching orders and coordinate activities of workers engaged in railroad traffic operations, such as the makeup or breakup of trains and yard switching.

Sample of reported job titles: Agent; Conductor; Conductor and Engineer; Conductor, Freight; Conductor/Brakeman; Freight Conductor; Railroad Conductor; Train Master; Trainman; Yardmaster

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Tasks  |  Tools & Technology  |  Knowledge  |  Skills  |  Abilities  |  Work Activities  |  Detailed Work Activities  |  Work Context  |  Job Zone  |  Education  |  Credentials  |  Interests  |  Work Styles  |  Work Values  |  Related Occupations  |  Wages & Employment  |  Job Openings  |  Additional Information

Tasks

  • Signal engineers to begin train runs, stop trains, or change speed, using telecommunications equipment or hand signals.
  • Confer with engineers regarding train routes, timetables, and cargoes, and to discuss alternative routes when there are rail defects or obstructions.
  • Receive information regarding train or rail problems from dispatchers or from electronic monitoring devices.
  • Receive instructions from dispatchers regarding trains' routes, timetables, and cargoes.
  • Direct and instruct workers engaged in yard activities, such as switching tracks, coupling and uncoupling cars, and routing inbound and outbound traffic.
  • Operate controls to activate track switches and traffic signals.
  • Keep records of the contents and destination of each train car, and make sure that cars are added or removed at proper points on routes.
  • Arrange for the removal of defective cars from trains at stations or stops.
  • Direct engineers to move cars to fit planned train configurations, combining or separating cars to make up or break up trains.
  • Inspect each car periodically during runs.
  • Review schedules, switching orders, way bills, and shipping records to obtain cargo loading and unloading information and to plan work.
  • Confirm routes and destination information for freight cars.
  • Verify accuracy of timekeeping instruments with engineers to ensure trains depart on time.
  • Document and prepare reports of accidents, unscheduled stops, or delays.
  • Instruct workers to set warning signals in front and at rear of trains during emergency stops.
  • Observe yard traffic to determine tracks available to accommodate inbound and outbound traffic.
  • Supervise workers in the inspection and maintenance of mechanical equipment to ensure efficient and safe train operation.
  • Supervise and coordinate crew activities to transport freight and passengers and to provide boarding, porter, maid, and meal services to passengers.
  • Record departure and arrival times, messages, tickets and revenue collected, and passenger accommodations and destinations.
  • Inspect freight cars for compliance with sealing procedures and record car numbers and seal numbers.
  • Collect tickets, fares, or passes from passengers.

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Tools & Technology

Tools used in this occupation:

  • Adjustable wrenches
  • Bar code reader equipment — Portable bar code scanners
  • Desktop computers
  • Dock plates — Bridge plates
  • Intercom systems
  • Location based messaging service platforms — Portable satellite communications systems
  • Lockout devices — Automatic container locks
  • Mainframe computers
  • Notebook computers — Laptop computers
  • Personal computers
  • Punches or nail sets or drifts — Starter punches
  • Radio frequency identification devices — Radio frequency identification RFID devices
  • Radio frequency transmitters or receivers — Ultra high frequency UHF radio communication systems
  • Rail couplers — Uncoupling levers
  • Rail switching systems — Switching system controls
  • Ratchets — Locking ratchet wrenches
  • Specialty wrenches — Switch adjusting wrenches; Terminal wrenches
  • Tie down anchors — Tie-down winches
  • Truck or rail scales — Weigh-in-motion scales
  • Two way radios
  • Winches — Car pullers
  • Wire or cable cutter — Cable sheath cutters

Technology used in this occupation:

  • Expert system software — Positive train control PTC systems
  • Industrial control software — Automated equipment identification AEI software; RailComm DocYard; SAIC; Softrail AEI Automatic Yard Tracking System
  • Inventory management software — Inventory tracking software; Softrail AEI Rail & Road Manager
  • Materials requirements planning logistics and supply chain software — Bourque Data Systems YardMaster; Freight reservation software
  • Office suite software — Microsoft Office

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Knowledge

  • Public Safety and Security — Knowledge of relevant equipment, policies, procedures, and strategies to promote effective local, state, or national security operations for the protection of people, data, property, and institutions.
  • Transportation — Knowledge of principles and methods for moving people or goods by air, rail, sea, or road, including the relative costs and benefits.
  • English Language — Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
  • Education and Training — Knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.
  • Law and Government — Knowledge of laws, legal codes, court procedures, precedents, government regulations, executive orders, agency rules, and the democratic political process.

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Skills

  • Coordination — Adjusting actions in relation to others' actions.
  • Monitoring — Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.
  • Speaking — Talking to others to convey information effectively.
  • Critical Thinking — Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
  • Active Listening — Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
  • Judgment and Decision Making — Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.
  • Time Management — Managing one's own time and the time of others.
  • Operation Monitoring — Watching gauges, dials, or other indicators to make sure a machine is working properly.
  • Complex Problem Solving — Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.
  • Operation and Control — Controlling operations of equipment or systems.
  • Reading Comprehension — Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
  • Active Learning — Understanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making.
  • Management of Personnel Resources — Motivating, developing, and directing people as they work, identifying the best people for the job.
  • Persuasion — Persuading others to change their minds or behavior.
  • Quality Control Analysis — Conducting tests and inspections of products, services, or processes to evaluate quality or performance.
  • Systems Analysis — Determining how a system should work and how changes in conditions, operations, and the environment will affect outcomes.
  • Systems Evaluation — Identifying measures or indicators of system performance and the actions needed to improve or correct performance, relative to the goals of the system.
  • Writing — Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.

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Abilities

  • Oral Expression — The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
  • Oral Comprehension — The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
  • Problem Sensitivity — The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing there is a problem.
  • Far Vision — The ability to see details at a distance.
  • Near Vision — The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).
  • Speech Clarity — The ability to speak clearly so others can understand you.
  • Speech Recognition — The ability to identify and understand the speech of another person.
  • Information Ordering — The ability to arrange things or actions in a certain order or pattern according to a specific rule or set of rules (e.g., patterns of numbers, letters, words, pictures, mathematical operations).
  • Deductive Reasoning — The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.
  • Inductive Reasoning — The ability to combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).
  • Reaction Time — The ability to quickly respond (with the hand, finger, or foot) to a signal (sound, light, picture) when it appears.
  • Written Comprehension — The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
  • Auditory Attention — The ability to focus on a single source of sound in the presence of other distracting sounds.
  • Category Flexibility — The ability to generate or use different sets of rules for combining or grouping things in different ways.
  • Control Precision — The ability to quickly and repeatedly adjust the controls of a machine or a vehicle to exact positions.
  • Perceptual Speed — The ability to quickly and accurately compare similarities and differences among sets of letters, numbers, objects, pictures, or patterns. The things to be compared may be presented at the same time or one after the other. This ability also includes comparing a presented object with a remembered object.
  • Selective Attention — The ability to concentrate on a task over a period of time without being distracted.
  • Visualization — The ability to imagine how something will look after it is moved around or when its parts are moved or rearranged.
  • Written Expression — The ability to communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.
  • Depth Perception — The ability to judge which of several objects is closer or farther away from you, or to judge the distance between you and an object.
  • Flexibility of Closure — The ability to identify or detect a known pattern (a figure, object, word, or sound) that is hidden in other distracting material.
  • Time Sharing — The ability to shift back and forth between two or more activities or sources of information (such as speech, sounds, touch, or other sources).

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Work Activities

  • Getting Information — Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
  • Inspecting Equipment, Structures, or Material — Inspecting equipment, structures, or materials to identify the cause of errors or other problems or defects.
  • Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates — Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.
  • Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events — Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.
  • Performing General Physical Activities — Performing physical activities that require considerable use of your arms and legs and moving your whole body, such as climbing, lifting, balancing, walking, stooping, and handling of materials.
  • Documenting/Recording Information — Entering, transcribing, recording, storing, or maintaining information in written or electronic/magnetic form.
  • Evaluating Information to Determine Compliance with Standards — Using relevant information and individual judgment to determine whether events or processes comply with laws, regulations, or standards.
  • Handling and Moving Objects — Using hands and arms in handling, installing, positioning, and moving materials, and manipulating things.
  • Monitor Processes, Materials, or Surroundings — Monitoring and reviewing information from materials, events, or the environment, to detect or assess problems.
  • Organizing, Planning, and Prioritizing Work — Developing specific goals and plans to prioritize, organize, and accomplish your work.
  • Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge — Keeping up-to-date technically and applying new knowledge to your job.
  • Controlling Machines and Processes — Using either control mechanisms or direct physical activity to operate machines or processes (not including computers or vehicles).
  • Making Decisions and Solving Problems — Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
  • Interacting With Computers — Using computers and computer systems (including hardware and software) to program, write software, set up functions, enter data, or process information.
  • Coordinating the Work and Activities of Others — Getting members of a group to work together to accomplish tasks.
  • Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships — Developing constructive and cooperative working relationships with others, and maintaining them over time.

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Detailed Work Activities

  • Signal others to coordinate vehicle movement.
  • Communicate with others to coordinate vehicle movement.
  • Direct emergency management activities.
  • Receive information or instructions for performing work assignments.
  • Direct passenger or freight transport activities.
  • Record operational details of travel.
  • Control equipment that regulates vehicle traffic.
  • Monitor vehicle movement or location.
  • Arrange maintenance activities.
  • Inspect locomotives or other railroad equipment.
  • Direct maintenance or repair activities.
  • Review work orders or schedules to determine operations or procedures.
  • Verify information or specifications.
  • Prepare accident or incident reports.
  • Record operational or production data.
  • Collect fares or payment from customers.

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Work Context

  • Face-to-Face Discussions — 94% responded “Every day.”
  • Wear Common Protective or Safety Equipment such as Safety Shoes, Glasses, Gloves, Hearing Protection, Hard Hats, or Life Jackets — 93% responded “Every day.”
  • Outdoors, Exposed to Weather — 84% responded “Every day.”
  • Duration of Typical Work Week — 91% responded “More than 40 hours.”
  • Sounds, Noise Levels Are Distracting or Uncomfortable — 77% responded “Every day.”
  • Contact With Others — 62% responded “Constant contact with others.”
  • Work With Work Group or Team — 80% responded “Extremely important.”
  • In an Enclosed Vehicle or Equipment — 59% responded “Every day.”
  • Consequence of Error — 51% responded “Extremely serious.”
  • Exposed to Contaminants — 68% responded “Every day.”
  • Frequency of Decision Making — 55% responded “Every day.”
  • Telephone — 65% responded “Every day.”
  • Responsible for Others' Health and Safety — 49% responded “Very high responsibility.”
  • Very Hot or Cold Temperatures — 40% responded “Every day.”
  • Importance of Being Exact or Accurate — 40% responded “Very important.”
  • Impact of Decisions on Co-workers or Company Results — 38% responded “Very important results.”
  • Coordinate or Lead Others — 40% responded “Extremely important.”
  • Spend Time Sitting — 40% responded “More than half the time.”
  • Freedom to Make Decisions — 48% responded “Some freedom.”
  • Extremely Bright or Inadequate Lighting — 40% responded “Every day.”
  • Responsibility for Outcomes and Results — 40% responded “Very high responsibility.”
  • Exposed to Hazardous Equipment — 58% responded “Every day.”
  • Importance of Repeating Same Tasks — 39% responded “Important.”
  • Physical Proximity — 45% responded “Moderately close (at arm's length).”
  • Time Pressure — 28% responded “Every day.”
  • Structured versus Unstructured Work — 40% responded “Limited freedom.”
  • Indoors, Not Environmentally Controlled — 42% responded “Every day.”
  • Deal With External Customers — 29% responded “Extremely important.”
  • Exposed to Hazardous Conditions — 37% responded “Every day.”
  • Electronic Mail — 41% responded “Every day.”
  • Spend Time Using Your Hands to Handle, Control, or Feel Objects, Tools, or Controls — 37% responded “Less than half the time.”
  • Exposed to Minor Burns, Cuts, Bites, or Stings — 28% responded “Every day.”
  • Frequency of Conflict Situations — 28% responded “Once a week or more but not every day.”
  • Exposed to Whole Body Vibration — 37% responded “Once a week or more but not every day.”
  • Letters and Memos — 27% responded “Never.”
  • Spend Time Making Repetitive Motions — 43% responded “Less than half the time.”

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Job Zone

Title Job Zone Two: Some Preparation Needed
Education These occupations usually require a high school diploma.
Related Experience Some previous work-related skill, knowledge, or experience is usually needed. For example, a teller would benefit from experience working directly with the public.
Job Training Employees in these occupations need anywhere from a few months to one year of working with experienced employees. A recognized apprenticeship program may be associated with these occupations.
Job Zone Examples These occupations often involve using your knowledge and skills to help others. Examples include orderlies, forest firefighters, customer service representatives, security guards, upholsterers, and tellers.
SVP Range (4.0 to < 6.0)

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Education


Percentage of Respondents
Education Level Required
86   High school diploma or equivalent Help
8   Post-secondary certificate Help
6   Associate's degree

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Credentials

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Interests

Interest code: ERC

  • Enterprising — Enterprising occupations frequently involve starting up and carrying out projects. These occupations can involve leading people and making many decisions. Sometimes they require risk taking and often deal with business.
  • Realistic — Realistic occupations frequently involve work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many of the occupations require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.
  • Conventional — Conventional occupations frequently involve following set procedures and routines. These occupations can include working with data and details more than with ideas. Usually there is a clear line of authority to follow.

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Work Styles

  • Attention to Detail — Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.
  • Dependability — Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
  • Integrity — Job requires being honest and ethical.
  • Self Control — Job requires maintaining composure, keeping emotions in check, controlling anger, and avoiding aggressive behavior, even in very difficult situations.
  • Independence — Job requires developing one's own ways of doing things, guiding oneself with little or no supervision, and depending on oneself to get things done.
  • Cooperation — Job requires being pleasant with others on the job and displaying a good-natured, cooperative attitude.
  • Adaptability/Flexibility — Job requires being open to change (positive or negative) and to considerable variety in the workplace.
  • Concern for Others — Job requires being sensitive to others' needs and feelings and being understanding and helpful on the job.
  • Stress Tolerance — Job requires accepting criticism and dealing calmly and effectively with high stress situations.
  • Analytical Thinking — Job requires analyzing information and using logic to address work-related issues and problems.
  • Social Orientation — Job requires preferring to work with others rather than alone, and being personally connected with others on the job.
  • Initiative — Job requires a willingness to take on responsibilities and challenges.
  • Persistence — Job requires persistence in the face of obstacles.
  • Leadership — Job requires a willingness to lead, take charge, and offer opinions and direction.
  • Achievement/Effort — Job requires establishing and maintaining personally challenging achievement goals and exerting effort toward mastering tasks.

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Work Values

  • Support — Occupations that satisfy this work value offer supportive management that stands behind employees. Corresponding needs are Company Policies, Supervision: Human Relations and Supervision: Technical.
  • Independence — Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to work on their own and make decisions. Corresponding needs are Creativity, Responsibility and Autonomy.
  • Working Conditions — Occupations that satisfy this work value offer job security and good working conditions. Corresponding needs are Activity, Compensation, Independence, Security, Variety and Working Conditions.

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Related Occupations

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Wages & Employment Trends

Median wages (2015) $26.89 hourly, $55,930 annual
State wages Local Salary Info
 
Employment (2014) 45,000 employees
Projected growth (2014-2024) Decline (-2% or lower) Decline (-2% or lower)
Projected job openings (2014-2024) 17,200
State trends Employment Trends
 
Top industries (2014)

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics 2015 wage data external site and 2014-2024 employment projections external site. "Projected growth" represents the estimated change in total employment over the projections period (2014-2024). "Projected job openings" represent openings due to growth and replacement.

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Job Openings on the Web

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Sources of Additional Information

Disclaimer: Sources are listed to provide additional information on related jobs, specialties, and/or industries. Links to non-DOL Internet sites are provided for your convenience and do not constitute an endorsement.

  • Railroad workers external site. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor. Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition.

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